The biomedical shift

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Transcript The biomedical shift

Knowledge production, communication
and utilization in late modern Sweden:
Studying biomedical alcohol research
Alexandra Bogren, PhD, SoRAD
Outline of the presentation
• The biomedical shift
• Why the alcohol field?
• The research project: questions and methods
• Methodological considerations
The biomedical shift
Current innovations and transformations in biomedical science and technology affect
ideas about our bodies, health (e.g., healthy – unhealthy; safe – at risk) and
responsibility for health problems (e.g., social – individual responsibility, etc).
(Clarke et al 2010, Midanik 2006).
Why the alcohol field?
Alcohol policy
– Historically, Swedish
alcohol policy has been
about collective social
responsibility (the welfare
– Now, a tendency to
individualize drinking
problems, in the wake of
Biomedical research
– A tendency to focus the
individual’s responsibility
for her own health.
– Reduces individual moral
culpability (cf. the disease
– Epigenetics: how lifestyle
choices may affect future
generations (controversial).
The research project
1. How do biomedical alcohol
researchers produce knowledge
about addiction? Which
epistemologies, assumptions,
and values do they bring to
their work, and how do these
affect the research outputs?
Ethnography & interviews
(research settings), research
2. a) How do policymakers and stakeholders
understand and use results from
biomedical alcohol research? (b) What is
the relation between media coverage and
policy proposals?
Policy documents & documents from the
Medical Products Agency, interviews,
longitudinal analysis of newspaper articles
and subsequent policy attention & policy
3. How are the results from biomedical alcohol research conceptualized
and communicated in the new electronic media, in particular websites
and blogs for patient/interest organizations?
Analysis of the content and the dissemination patterns of
websites and blogs for patient/interest organizations in the
alcohol and drug field (e.g., RFHL, RNS, FMN, Swedish Drug
Users Union).
Methodological considerations
Daily practice of researchers (experiments in the lab, discussions at meetings,
instructions, computerized work, lectures, etc).
– Observing practice and “talk-in-interaction” vs interviewing researchers
about their practice?
– Our solution: both – observing practice & talk result in different types of
data compared to interviewing.
– In addition, research as described for reviewers at research conuncils
(research proposals).
Government officials, industry representatives, and NGO representatives views,
motives and communication.
– Informants vs respondents?
– Our solution: informants acting as guides to a process.
Expand the project: the scope of researchers’ attitudes to research
practice & communication.
– Survey to biomedical alcohol researchers.
– National/international?
– How to get researchers to reply (time consuming)?
General issues
How to combine the different types of knowledge gained?
– Case study (Alvesson & Kärreman 2011).
– Friction, breakdowns and “mysteries” as constructive rather than
Knowledges produced in our project:
– Different outlooks on the field (production, consumption,
– Created through a multiperspective approach (situated
knowledges; knowledges from the inside & the outside).
Thank you!